The success of this year’s Best Picture
By Jerrison Oracion, Senior Columnist
Awards season this year featured a lot of great films. This made the race to Best Picture at the Academy Awards interesting. Last fall, the commercials for the nominated films claimed that they were the best film of 2019—especially Joker and 1917. Even Bong Joon-ho’s recent film Parasite not only claimed that it was the best film of 2019, but also stated that it had a high rating on Rotten Tomatoes—and that Joon-ho is the greatest director of our time. History was made in the Academy Awards this year as the South Korean film got Best Picture… making it the first international film to get the award.
Parasite got four awards in total. Additional awards include the newly rebranded Best International Film, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay. Joon-ho’s films are serious but also have many comedic moments along the way. Some of his other films include Okja, Snowpiercer, The Host, and Memories of Murder. He has a fan base that is as powerful as the fan base of a K-pop group. His winning film tackles social equality and credible evidence in the era of Donald Trump. The story is not only relevant to South Korea—it is relevant to the rest of the world.
The Kim family is very skilled but they do not have the credentials to get a job; the Park family are poor at everyday tasks, yet they are wealthy. Joon-ho and Han Jin-won’s screenplay show their ideas of the differences between the two classes the families represent. They masterfully insert comedy throughout the serious film, and also speak to the idea that hard work will lead to success. There are a few scenes in the film that are trying to comment on the racism that Indigenous people face… but the scenes aren’t very good.
The film started to get attention when it premiered at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival and got the Palme d’Or. A week later, it was released in South Korea on May 30 and it did very well. Then, it went through the film festival circuit—including the Vancouver International Film Festival—where the screenings of the film were sold out. The screening that I went to had a very long lineup outside that went around the theatre once.
There was a limited release of the film in Canada and America on October 11. A lot of people filled the cinemas… and that led to more theatres showing the film. Parasite surprisingly got a lot of awards, including Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globe Awards, and even Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture at the Screen Actors Guild Awards—making it the first international film to get that award. The best cast award included Bong-movie regular Song Kang-ho who plays the father, Ki-taek.
Because Parasite got Best Picture this year, it will probably still be in theatres for a few more weeks and there hopefully will be a Criterion Collection release of the movie (where it would be honoured with a DVD and Blu-ray release). It’s a relevant story and Bong’s directing style is the reason why it earns the title of the big surprise hit of last year.